Before they actually start shipping via online retailers, and before they pop up in physical stores nationwide, Samsung’s newest mobile powerhouses still have one final hurdle to clear. Make that two. LG’s unsung hero pair.
Yes, the aging continuously maturing G3 and grossly overlooked 2015 edition of the original “banana phone”, aka G Flex 2. Now, we know exactly what you’re thinking. Samsung has much bigger fish to fry than perennial Korean number two LG.
Technically, you’re right, and Apple is the one the Android kings are after. But you can never be too careful fending off rising underdogs, and on that note, Sammy’s domestic arch-rival is perhaps its most dangerous global adversary as well.
Historical sales numbers speak volumes about LG’s slow but steady mainstream surge, and G3 shipments alone likely circle 10 million units. Compare that to HTC’s paltry, shrinking figures, and these G-series flagships have as much right as the One M9 to challenge the heavyweight champion of the world. And so it begins:
Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge vs LG G3 and G Flex 2 – pricing and availability
Nowhere near as expensive as originally forecasted, the S6s are still twice as extravagant as a factory unlocked G3 on Amazon. Yes, a silky white, “international”, SIM-free D855 model, unfortunately with no US-valid warranty, costs only $362. Meanwhile, a “metallic black” version starts at $364, and a glitzy gold at $366.
On-contract, you can have the 32 GB/3 GB configuration for no charge with AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, in black or white. The Now Network also carries the gold G3, which likewise it gives away for free, and a limited red variant is $360, no pact needed.
Of course, the newer, curvier G Flex 2 is considerably pricier, but it’s a better deal than both the S6 and S6 Edge nonetheless when purchased for Sprint use – $150 with, $600 without carrier agreements. Finally, the unlocked international version is a no-go, at an outlandish $725 caused by import taxes and importer greed.
Design and build quality comparison
So the LGs are more affordable for the most part, but do they have something else going for them? Yes, just not in the aesthetics and construction departments. Don’t get us wrong, we dig the rear physical buttons, uber-slim resulting bezels, compact form factors and, above all, G Flex 2’s subtle yet distinguished loop and that one-of-a-kind self-healing back panel coating.
At the end of the day, the S6 is obviously more elegant and “premium” than the G3, and S6 Edge’s curves make more sense than G Flex 2’s single concavity. Keep in mind that the LGs are “fantastic in plastic”, whereas the Samsungs beautifully combine aluminum with glass for virtually unbreakable exteriors.
Last but not least, the S6 and S6 Edge are around 7 mm thin, and their lesser contenders roughly 2 mm chunkier. Such a comfortable win for the odds-on favorites!
Display and cameras
It’s not over until the fat lady sings, or in this case, until we pit the four screens against one another. Three of these are Quad HD, which is a fancy way of saying they deliver overkill 2,560 x 1,440 pixels resolutions. The fourth, on the G Flex 2, “settles” for 1,920 x 1,080p.
You have to appreciate the diversity in LG’s camp, although sticking to the cold, often unjust numbers, we’re forced to give a second point to Samsung. Their smaller footprints stem superior pixel density – 577 vs 538 ppi. Then again, some of you may favor sheer size over extreme sharpness, in which case 5.5 exceeds 5.1 inches.
As far as photo competency goes, the on-paper facts allow the GS6 makers to essentially book an early overall victory. No way can LG recover the three-point gap generated by an easy 16/5 MP vs 13/2.1 MP triumph.
Just for the record though, G3 and G Flex 2’s main 13 megapixel snappers aren’t bad, with optical image stabilization, laser autofocus and dual-LED flash in tow.
Processors, RAM and battery life
Sorry, G3, your on-board Snapdragon 801 is simply too old to hold its own when confronted with snazzy new octa-core 64-bit Exynos 7420 chips. The S810 inside the G Flex 2? Well, it’s octa-core and 64-bit-capable too, but it’s not particularly energy efficient and overheating is still a concern.
In the memory arena, it’s actually the G Flex 2 that bows out first, offering a skimpy 2 GB stateside. The G3 is a perfect match for the S6 and S6 Edge, at 3 gigs of RAM, and the final verdict on autonomy isn’t in yet.
Much like a fine, expensive wine and Nicole Kidman, it’s as if the G3 is getting better with age, lasting a reported 20 hours or so between charges in continuous use. The G Flex 2 should rock similarly impressive endurance, if not better, courtesy of the lower-res screen, whereas the S6 and S6 Edge are unlikely to go a full day without croaking. Their cells are after all 400 mAh or so tinier.
Software, storage and others
With Android 5.0 Lollipop across the board, some would be quick to call the software battle a draw. That’s not inherently wrong, but it’s essential to understand the L firmwares are heavily influenced by proprietary customizations.
Alas, it’s recently been confirmed TouchWiz UI is as bloated as ever. LG’s own set of “optimizations” is far from subtle, so whatever your choice, you’re in for heavily skinned Android.
Storage options? For once, LG cleanly puts one in the win column, thanks to microSD expansion on the G3, as well as the G Flex 2. Too bad they don’t go over 32 GB internal space, compared to the 128 gig top S6/S6 Edge configs.
Nor does LG provide fingerprint authentication, heart rate monitoring or any unconventional method of standing out from the pack. No water resistance, no BoomSound speakers, no nothing. They do have Dolby mobile audio enhancements, which is simply too little for number one… or two.